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Private Prison Company Used in Drug Raids at Public High School

Corrections Corporation of America used in drug sweeps of public school students in Arizona.

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"They [CCA] use the criminal justice system as a means of making income -- for profit," added Toersbijns. "So, their interest in the criminal justice system is totally opposite of the police officer. The police officer is public safety. The primary interest for CCA and associated entities is profit. So, there most definitely is a conflict of interest."

Profit-Driven Roadmap to the Present: "Tough-on-Crime" Mania and the Introduction of the "War on Drugs" to the Classroom.

As some opponents of prison privatization attest, CCA embodies the worst pitfalls of public-private partnerships, in that the corporation has worked in the past to advance criminal justice legislation that has contributed to both a swell in U.S. prison/detention center populations and, consequently, CCA's bottom line.

For example, CCA was active (both as a co-chair and member) in the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) Public Safety and Elections Task Force (formerly the ALEC Criminal Justice Task Force) through the 1990s, to the end of 2010.

ALEC bills itself as "the nation’s largest, non-partisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators," working toward the advancement of the "Jeffersonian ideals" of limited federal government. In reality, ALEC is almost entirely funded by corporations and sources other than legislative dues, and it is overwhelmingly comprised of Republican state lawmakers and an untold number of large corporations and influential law/lobby firms (although at least 41 companies have announced they have stopped funding ALEC in the wake of public exposure of its activities). ALEC's primary objective is to adopt and disseminate "model legislation," much of which is drafted entirely by its private sector members. ALEC boasts that nearly 20 percent of this "model legislation" introduced in state legislatures nationwide is passed into law annually.

In the wake of reporting outlining CCA's involvement with ALEC and the spread of immigration law based on SB 1070,  CCA told the Arizona Republic, in September 2011, that the corporation left ALEC at an undisclosed time in 2010.

Records obtained by DBA Press show the direct sponsorship of both CCA and of Management and Training Corporation ("MTC," currently the nation's third largest for-profit prison/immigrant detention center operator) of the August 2010 ALEC Annual Meeting, as well as the likely involvement of lobbyists employed by both CCA, MTC and GEO Group in the December, 2010 ALEC "States and Nation Policy Summit".

Arizona lobby reports also show clear GEO Group involvement with ALEC during the December, 2009 ALEC States and Nation Policy Summit -- the meeting at which then-Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce introduced legislation (that would later be introduced in the Arizona legislature as SB 1070) for adoption as a piece of ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force "model legislation." Subsequently, copycat legislation similar to this ALEC model bill -- the "No More Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Immigrants Act" -- began appearing in state legislatures throughout the nation.

Furthermore, the ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force was instrumental, during the years of CCA's membership and leadership, in proliferating such 'tough-on-crime' legislation as: "three strikes," "truth in sentencing" and "mandatory minimum" sentencing guidelines.

And ALEC also advanced the model "Private Correctional Facilities Act," which allowed private corporations to operate state prisons.

These guidelines and pieces of "model legislation" (including the "Private Correctional Facilities Act") were advanced by ALEC in partnership with CrimeStrike, a division of the National Rifle Association ("NRA," a longtime ALEC private sector member), throughout the first half of the 1990s. Critics of this effort saw CrimeStrike largely as a response to the Clinton administration's desire to strengthen firearms violence prevention laws. As such, the CrimeStrike campaign spawned the saying, "guns don't kill people, people kill people"-- and posited that the solution to crime would be found through the use of greater criminal penalties. This strategy took advantage of, and perpetuated, the "tough-on-crime" sentiments of the day.

 
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